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Tech News

The lunar gateway: a short cut to Mars?
Posted on Saturday September 22, 2018

Nasa plans to put a module in orbit around the moon as a springboard for missions to the red planet – and beyond

Spaceflight will mark an important milestone this year – when Nasa celebrates the 50th anniversary of US astronauts reaching the moon. In December 1968 Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – on Apollo 8 – swept over the lunar surface and captured bright blue images of Earth rising above the grey plains of the moon. It was one of the most dramatic space missions ever flown. Manned landings followed, but after a few years, the US lost interest in lunar space flights.

But now Nasa has revealed plans to return to the Moon and has asked European scientists and industry leaders to join the agency in a bold plan aimed at rebooting humanity’s conquest of the solar system - in the form of an international manned station that will orbit the moon within the next decade.

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Time: how the digital age became the iconic magazine’s unlikely savior
Posted on Saturday September 22, 2018

Mark and Lynne Benioff are the latest entrepreneurs to make a bet on old media with their $190m Time purchase. Should tech billionaires own our biggest news outlets?

In February, Time magazine’s name was stripped from its headquarters in lower Manhattan. America’s most famous magazine seemed headed for the wastepaper bin of history, another victim of the digital age. Now, the digital age has come to save it.

Last week, Marc Benioff, the billionaire founder of software services company Salesforce, and his wife Lynne bought Time for $190m. The purchase came just one year after the 95-year-old news magazine had been acquired by Family Circle publisher Meredith as part of a package of titles of which Time looked like the unwanted stepchild.

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Uber bid to buy Deliveroo could give founder £150m payout
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Reports say Uber Eats is in talks to gobble up London-based rival food app for £1.5bn

The Deliveroo founder Will Shu could be set for a payout of nearly £150m ($200m), with reports that Uber has been in talks to buy the London-based food delivery service for at least £1.5bn.

Uber has said it wants to build scale in the takeaway delivery market as its Uber Eats service battles heavy competition in the US from Grubhub.

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3D gun rights activist detained in Taiwan over underage sex claim
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

US authorities annulled Cody Wilson’s passport as police investigate accusation that he had sex with an underage girl

A Texan running a 3D-printed guns company who flew to Taiwan as police investigated an accusation that he had sex with an underage girl was apprehended in Taipei on Friday after US authorities annulled his passport, officials said.

Related: Gun rights activist Cody Wilson charged with sexual assault of teen

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RBS and Barclays asked to explain 'addition to litany of IT failures'
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Treasury committee head calls for compensation for customers after latest glitches

The head of the powerful Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, is demanding answers from RBS and Barclays – and compensation for customers – after technical failures left millions of users locked out of their accounts.

Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers were unable to access online and mobile accounts between 5am and 10.30am on Friday morning, in the latest blow for confidence in Britain’s online banking infrastructure.

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Want to know your rights but only have 60 seconds?
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

London barrister hopes to educate people about the law with bitesize Youtube videos

Christian Weaver likes to keep it concise. His video series ‘TheLawin60Seconds’ is pioneering legal advice for an age of supposedly limited attention spans.

The 24-year-old lawyer has begun teaching people about their rights in online talks to camera that aim to simplify the complexity of legislation into a few basic principles.

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Amazon's Alexa knows what you forgot and can guess what you're thinking
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

AI voice assistant will soon give users with connected smart home devices reminders to lock doors and turn off lights

Amazon says its AI voice assistant Alexa can now guess what you might be thinking of – or what you’ve forgotten.

At an event in Seattle on Thursday, the technology company unveiled a new feature called Alexa Hunches that aims to replicate human curiosity and insight using artificial intelligence.

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Uber Eats couriers' pay protest brings traffic to a halt in central London
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

Motorcyclists block roads outside HQ for second day asking for £5 per delivery minimum

Uber Eats couriers brought traffic to a halt outside the company’s UK headquarters for the second day in a row in a protest about pay.

Motorcyclists, estimated to number more than 100, blocked the road outside Aldgate East station in central London on Thursday afternoon after they said the company cut the minimum delivery rate for riders on Wednesday.

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EU warns Facebook it faces sanctions over 'misleading' T&Cs
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

Commission gives social media company until end of the year to change its terms of service

Brussels has warned Facebook it will face sanctions unless it changes what the European commission calls its “misleading” terms and conditions.

The EU commissioner in charge of consumer protection, Věra Jourová, said she had run out of patience with the social network after nearly two years of discussions aimed at giving Facebook’s European users more information about how their data is used.

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Time to regulate bitcoin, says Treasury committee report
Posted on Wednesday September 19, 2018

MPs in UK say ‘wild west’ cryptocurrency industry is leaving investors vulnerable

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “wild west” assets that expose investors to a litany of risks and are in urgent need of regulation, MPs on the Treasury select committee have said.

The committee said in a report that consumers were left unprotected from an unregulated industry that aided money laundering, while the government and regulators “bumble along” and fail to take action.

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The YouTube stars heading for burnout: ‘The most fun job imaginable became deeply bleak’
Posted on Saturday September 08, 2018

Why are so many YouTubers finding themselves stressed, lonely and exhausted?

When Matt Lees became a full-time YouTuber, he felt as if he had won the lottery. As a young, ambitious writer, director and presenter, he was able to create low-budget, high-impact films that could reach a worldwide audience, in a way that would have been impossible without the blessing of television’s gatekeepers just a few years earlier. In February 2013, he had his first viral hit, an abridged version of Sony’s announcement of its PlayStation 4 video game console, dubbed with a cheerily acerbic commentary. Within days the video had been watched millions of times. “It hardly seems viral at all, by today’s standards,” Lees says, yet it was one of the most viewed videos on YouTube that month. The boost to Lees’ ego was nothing compared with the effect it had on his career. When YouTube’s algorithm notices this sort of success, it starts directing viewers to the uploader’s other videos, earning the channel more subscribers and, via the snippety advertisements that play before each one, higher income. Overnight, Lees had what seemed like the first shoots of a sustainable career.

Excitement soon gave way to anxiety. Even in 2013, Lees was aware that his success depended not so much on smash hits as on day-by-day reliability. “It’s not enough to simply create great things,” he says. “The audience expect consistency. They expect frequency. Without these, it’s incredibly easy to slip off the radar and lose favour with the algorithm that gave you your wings.” By the end of the year Lees had grown his channel from 1,000 subscribers to 90,000, and caught the attention of one of his influences, Charlie Brooker, who invited Lees to collaborate on writing a Channel 4 special. For a month Lees worked 20-hour days, dividing his time between the TV script work and, ever conscious that missing a day’s upload could cause his videos to tumble down the search rankings, his YouTube channel.

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Is a tablet or 2-in-1 laptop with a stylus useful for a student?
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

Matt’s daughter already has a laptop for university, but will a lighter device with a smartpen be better for taking notes?

My daughter will be starting university and already has a more-than-adequate laptop for essay writing and Netflix. But rather than carry it to and from lectures all the time, we wondered if it would be worth investing in a tablet or smaller 2-in-1 laptop with a stylus for note taking. Or do you think it would be better to stick with a small screen laptop? Matt

There are two issues here that go well beyond product choice, and can only be decided by you and your daughter. The first is whether a change in circumstances – going to university – requires the adoption of a new technology, whether it be a tablet or stylus or both. I’m assuming that your daughter doesn’t use either of these, or you would already know the answer.

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Is there a cheap Windows alternative for a MacBook user?
Posted on Thursday September 13, 2018

Bernadette is a writer, photographer who can’t afford a new Apple laptop. Is there a lightweight and affordable replacement out there?

I need a new lightweight laptop, as I travel a bit, but cannot afford a Mac at this time. I already own an iPad (and an iPhone) but the screen is too small for hosting group meetings. Also, I am a writer and photographer. What would be your suggestion for a lightweight, value-for-money laptop that won’t take me too far from the facilities of an Apple product that I’ve been accustomed to using for many years. Bernadette

If you’re a happy long-term Mac user then I recommend you stick with Apple. There’s not a huge amount of difference between MacOS and Windows 10, but you will have built up years of experience and “motor memory” reactions that you will lose if you change operating systems. Also, while Windows 10 does a reasonable job of working with smartphones, you will lose the integration that Apple provides between iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and iCloud.

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How can I fix my Windows 10 laptop's browser?
Posted on Thursday September 06, 2018

Firefox no longer works on Angela’s machine and she has been forced to use Microsoft Edge. How can she fix it?

I cannot access various websites in Firefox. Some, like BBC News, will open but don’t display correctly. More worryingly, I cannot sign in to my bank account or my credit card account on Firefox. I am forced to use Edge! I have run various scans with Kaspersky and Malwarebytes and don’t know where to look next.

I have a Dell Inspiron 15 5000 laptop running Windows 10 Home, Firefox 61.0.2 and Kaspersky Internet Security. Angela

All software is corruptible and browsers, being complex, tend to suffer more than most applications. Problems may be due to corrupted user profiles, caches, or badly behaved extensions rather than the browser code, but for the user, the result is the same.

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What's the best laptop for university under £600?
Posted on Thursday August 30, 2018

Linda’s history-studying son needs a portable computer. Which model would deliver value for money on a budget?

My son is off to university and needs a laptop for his history course. His needs are coursework, watching movies, listening to music and gaming. Our needs are best value for money on a budget of £600 or less. What do you think of reconditioned laptops? We are not a poor household, but we are going to have to make a few sacrifices to get him through university. Linda

It’s always a good idea to see if the university and/or department have any recommendations, discount deals or special requirements. This can be important for courses that use professional software, though I don’t expect history needs anything that won’t run on most laptops.

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Big tech's double trouble: political heat from Trump and the left may signal reckoning ahead
Posted on Sunday September 02, 2018

Trump’s timing of attacks on Google, Facebook and Twitter could not have been better, as the three come under scrutiny in hearings

Trump and Russia may have dominated the political discourse all summer, but last week the attention turned again to America’s internet technology giants. They had enjoyed a few months out of the spotlight following grueling congressional hearings in Washington late last year, after evidence emerged of Russia’s use of social media fake accounts to try to influence voters in the 2016 US presidential election.

But that respite ended last week after a tweet from Donald Trump that electrified the news agenda from Silicon Valley to the capital when, seemingly out of the blue – he posted a bizarre tweet. “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD,” he tweeted. Trump went on to allege that Google was censoring right-wing voices and privileging voices from the left.

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Does the banning of Alex Jones signal a new era of big tech responsibility?
Posted on Friday August 10, 2018

With the removal of the conspiracy theorist’s material from key platforms, firms have changed their tune on ‘free speech’ – but some see the move as more about money than morality

At this very moment, the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is almost certainly sitting in front of a camera, shouting that he has been silenced. If you are so inclined, you can easily watch and listen along, either by going to his website, downloading his iPhone and Android apps, or following him on Twitter.

Related: Facebook, Apple, YouTube and Spotify ban Infowars' Alex Jones

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From Virgin to Tesla: why companies go cool on public ownership
Posted on Thursday August 09, 2018

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs get frustrated by the demands of the markets

Elon Musk’s announcement that he was considering taking Tesla off the stock market should not have been a total surprise.

Related: Tesla shares soar after Elon Musk floats plan to take company private

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A withering verdict: MPs report on Zuckerberg, Russia and Cambridge Analytica
Posted on Saturday July 28, 2018

Select committee criticises Facebook response and urges tighter internet regulation

The DCMS select committee’s far-reaching interim report on its 18-month investigation into fake news and the use of data and “dark ads” in elections offers a wide-ranging, informed and sustained critique that carries with it the full weight of parliament. The verdict is withering: Facebook failed. It “obfuscated”, refused to investigate how its platform was abused by the Russian government until forced by pressure from Senate committees and, in the most damning section, it aided and abetted the incitement of racial hatred in Burma, noting that even the company’s chief technical officer, Mike Schroepfer, called this “awful”.

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‘Alexa – can you teach my kids some manners, please?’
Posted on Wednesday September 19, 2018

As voice-controlled AI creeps into millions of homes, a modern dilemma presents itself: how does one properly address a virtual being?

The work of an etiquette expert is never-ending. No sooner have you adjusted to a world in which the households you advise may have few or – whisper it – no staff, than the technology giants develop personal assistants using artificial intelligence.

It is a whole new minefield and, as the Times reports, one already developing new expertise. One BBC tech executive told a conference audience on Tuesday that her solution to children developing poor manners due to Alexa, Siri and their rivals (the AI will respond whether you say “please” or not) was for adults in the house to say “please” and “thank you” to the AIs at all times. With that first step in mind, here is our extensive and scientific list of etiquette do’s and don’ts when dealing with your AI assistant:

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Code-cracking WW2 Bombe operation recreated at Bletchley
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Modern day codebreakers have used wartime methods to read messages scrambled by an Enigma machine.

Facebook stops sending staff to help political campaigns
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

The social network will no longer send employees to work at the offices of political campaigns.

Tech Tent: Do the police have your biometric digits?
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Zoe Kleinman explores concerns that law enforcement agencies are collecting too much biometric data.

Amazon makes Alexa-controlled microwave
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Amazon has unveiled a microwave that can be controlled using its Alexa voice assistant.

China blocks Twitch game-streaming service
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

The service's website and app is no longer reachable from mainland China, gamers report

Instagram's IGTV recommended 'abusive' videos
Posted on Friday September 21, 2018

Sexually suggestive clips featuring children were recommended to users, an investigation finds.

Internet regulator considered for UK
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

The government is considering "all options" to keep UK citizens "safe" online.

GoPro Hero 7 camera films smooth videos without gimbal
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

The latest action cam automatically stabilises footage without separate equipment.

John Hancock adds fitness tracking to all policies
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

One of the largest life insurance providers in North America will now sell only "interactive" policies that collect health data.

Vote Leave data firm hit with first ever GDPR notice
Posted on Thursday September 20, 2018

AggregateIQ is appealing against the accusation that it mishandled personal data and broke GDPR rules.

 


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